As we expected, the Over The Counter, Direct To Consumer, online hearing aid market is certainly beginning to heat up. A new hearing aid manufacturer in the US called Novidan has launched a Direct To Consumer hearing aid called the Novi One which you can see below. We don't expect this to be the last such announcement we talk about over the next twelve months. The OTC act in the states is finally expected to kick in during 2020, perhaps sometime over the summer. I believe that this will kickstart an explosion in hearing device offerings within this new category. Let's talk about Novidan and Novi One.
Who is Novidan?
Novidan is a new company formed by three hearing industry veterans from Starkey, the American hearing aid manufacturer. The business is based in Minnesota. It appears that Novidan is manufacturing the devices for possible partners as opposed to selling the hearing aids directly to consumers. Although that could change as the OTC regulations come into effect. There is a lot of design and manufacturing experience in the company and the device seems to be pretty solid.
The Nova One
The Nova One is a mini Behind The Ear hearing aid available in five colours that uses a thin tube and silicon tips to connect to the ear canal. They say: The NoviOneTM thin tube cable was developed by Novidan to fit discretely over the ear, and stay in place throughout the day, without requiring a concha lock. To match the superior performance of the thin tube, we also developed a series of silicone eartips (S, M, L) to maximize acoustic performance and enable hours of comfortable use.
Choosing a mini BTE product for direct-to-consumer makes a lot of sense for me. They are more reliable and less prone to breakdown in the receiver. Mainly because the receiver is protected in the hearing aid and not open to the hostile environment that is the ear canal. While Receiver In Canal hearing aids are really versatile, receiver failures can be an issue. Something that has been recognised in the Shift hearing aid offering in Australia I spoke about last week. Their warranty does not cover receiver failure.
Judging by the list of features that the website describes this is a pretty solid hearing aid offering. Although, we won't know that for sure until someone gets their hands on them. They are calling their system Novi Sound and they say: NoviSoundTM uses customized adaptive directionality and compression architecture for a pure, clear sound. The 16 channels of WDRC and 48 bands of noise reduction and equalization, allow for stunning resolution of signal processing across the bandwidth of this device. NoviSoundTM has the ability to identify poor signal to noise environments and process signals precisely for best-in-class background noise management.
Let me translate that for you, they are using their own prescription values in a 16 channel hearing device which can be separately customised at 48 different input points. The sixteen channels can be used for the purpose of noise reduction and how the microphones work to focus on speech in noise. The Novi One comes with 4 preset sound settings which I will discuss later.
While we don't know how good the adaptive directionality or the noise reduction will be, the very fact that they are there means that this is a real grown-up hearing aid, not some cheap amplifier or PSAP. Novidan says that the Nova One is an FDA registered hearing aid designed for the direct-to-consumer market.
The device is quite a nice looking hearing aid, it looks small and I would imagine it will be pretty discreet on the ear. It is hard to tell what size the battery is but I am going to hazard a guess of 312 maybe.
The list of features on the aid are as follows:
- 16 channels/ 48 bands: Channels and bands are used for customising the amplification to a hearing loss
- Active noise reduction: Active noise reduction is designed to attack noise in order to reduce it
- Adaptive directionality: It means that the microphones will adapt to try and deliver the best focus on speech
- Dynamic feedback canceller: It works to get rid of feedback (whistling) and will change as the feedback does
- Low noise mems microphones: Low noise microphones keep circuit noise of the hearing aids to a minimum
- Nanocoating: A special coating to protect hearing aids from moisture damage
- Wind noise management: A system to reduce the noise of wind across the microphones
That is a healthy list of features for any basic hearing aid. The use of mems microphones shows a commitment to use the latest hardware in the devices.
Four Preset Programmes
As I said earlier, they say the devices have four preset programmes that are as follows:
Home: Designed to give the best experience at home, in quiet, in small groups and for the TV
Restaurant: For use in noisy environments to help you better hear speech
Outside: For use when outside particularly in wind
Music: For use in general music situations
Those are good presets, they cover all the situations that most people find problems in. It will allow a user to simply change from programme to programme as need be.
A Solid Offering
As I said, this seems to be a pretty solid offering from Novidan, it falls squarely in the basic technology level of modern hearing aids. At this level you would expect some noise reduction, you would expect preset programmes, not automatics. You might not expect wind noise management though. Of course, we won't know just how good they are until someone has them on the ears.
There is no mention of self-programming on the site, however, as a direct-to-consumer hearing aid, you would expect this to be the case. I would be surprised if it isn't to be honest, however, there is no mention of Bluetooth on the site and that makes me wonder a little. If they are self-programming, how can you programme them?
I will watch the company closely to get a feel for the products and technology as their story evolves. Like us on Facebook by clicking the button below to keep up with our latest utterances. Alternatively, if you don't like Facebook, sign up to the newsletter below. It is important to remember, a hearing aid isn't properly fitted unless they do Real Ear Measurement.